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8
Nov

HP Black Friday sales include $300 savings on Spectre laptops, more


Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The holiday shopping season is just a few weeks away, meaning big sales and deals on all things tech continue to surface online. In the latest, HP’s day after Thanksgiving sales appeared on a holiday ad, revealing up to $300 savings on Spectre laptops, gaming desktops, accessories, and more.

The leading deal in the 16-page long HP holiday advertisement is a $300 discount on the Spectre x360 13-inch laptop. Bringing the price of the device down from $1,150 to just $850, this touchscreen 2-in-1 convertible will be selling for its lowest price ever come Black Friday. The discounted device comes configured with an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 Processor and features a micro-edge Corning Gorilla glass display for crisp visuals. We reviewed it earlier in the year and found that it is flexible, fast, and is the 2-in-1 for every occasion.

For those looking for a 2-in-1 with a bigger display, the HP sale also includes $320 savings on 15-inch HP Envy Laptop X360. Cutting the price down from $1,000 to just $680, the deal presents big value for one of HP’s top-selling touchscreen convertibles. Not only is the large screen spacious enough for multitasking, but it comes configured with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 chipset for more processing power. The screen and overall design were big highlights for us in our review of the device.

Elsewhere on the ad are some savings on gaming laptops. These are some very powerful machines that come configured with dedicated Nvidia graphics cards. Usually well over $1,000, the leading sales include $300 off the 15-inch Omen by HP Laptop with a 4 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 TI graphics card, and $420 off the HP Pavilion Gaming laptop with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 2 GB graphics. The sales bring the price on these models down from $1,200, to $900 and $790, respectively.

HP’s ad shows it also would be discounting certain accessories, including a 1TB External Portable USB 3.0 HDD for $70, and a slight $296 sale price on the HP Pro Windows Mixed Reality Headset.

This is just one of many deals for the holiday season, as Costco is also running similar Black Friday discounts on Dell laptops. Looking for more information about the best deals? Find more from our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals pages.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Dell takes up to $450 off of XPS and Alienware notebooks for Black Friday
  • Nvidia vs. AMD
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review
  • Here are the 10 best laptop deals for November 2018
  • Everything you need to know about Macy’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals



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8
Nov

New Windows 10 bug messes with the way you open your files


Microsoft has had quite a bit of trouble in addressing Windows bugs recently, and it now looks like things aren’t getting easier for some consumers. In the latest set of headaches, a recent cumulative update for the Windows 10 April 2018 release has broken the file association settings with certain applications, reports How-To Geek.

In testing, some third-party Windows 10 apps like Adobe Photoshop and Notepad++ no longer work as intended when users go to setting to choose either program as the default for .txt files. Windows 10 will instead absurdly ignore a consumer’s app default settings for both programs and open the file in NotePad on its own.

The same problem also applies when right-clicking on a .txt file and choosing “Open With” and “Always Use This App.” from the drop-down menu. Windows 10 will initially open it up in the correctly chosen app but will later forget the file association setting and default back to Notepad.

Microsoft does not document this bug on any list of known issues and also hasn’t yet issued a public response to related reports. The issue is instead believed to be linked to Cumulative Update KB4462919, initially released on October 9. Oddly enough, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update doesn’t appear to be impacted at the moment. It might be wise to temporarily pause updates or roll back and uninstall the problematic cumulative update if you’re in fear of this issue, or if you are already seeing that your file association settings aren’t holding.

The bug appears to be a common problem with a lot of Windows users and a Reddit support thread dedicated to the topic has gathered over 88 upvotes and 47 comments at the time of writing.

“I’ve been having this issue for quite some time now. I’m not able to assign certain file types to certain programs. This is happening in 1809, decided to rollback (through clean format) to 1803 and I still have the issue. Thinking of going back to 1709 to get rid of it,” complained a frustrated Windows 10 user on social media.

This is now the third major problem facing Windows 10 recently. Previously, Microsoft had to pull back the release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update after consumers reported it was deleting files upon an upgrade. There also was another issue which caused the Blue Screen of Death on certain HP computers, though that was linked to driver issues and quickly fixed. And in more recent times, a bug also impacted zip file operations, overwriting and deleting users documents without the proper prompts on the screen.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • A new bug in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update could delete your files
  • Problems with Microsoft’s Windows October 2018 Update aren’t over yet
  • Windows 10 October 2018 Update won’t launch in October after all
  • Don’t install the Windows 10 cumulative update if you have an HP computer
  • Windows Insiders get fix for October 2018 Update’s data delete bug



8
Nov

Save up to $328 with Costco’s Surface Pro 6 Black Friday bundle for early birds


Dan Baker/Digital Trends

If you’re in the market for a new tablet that can replace your PC, and Apple’s newly announced iPad Pro isn’t cutting it for your needs, then Costco may have a deal for you. The wholesaler is offering a $200 discount on several configurations of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6. What’s notable about Costco’s deal is that both the Surface Pen and the keyboard cover, an accessory that’s essential in helping to transform the slate into a full laptop replacement, are both included in the price. Another bonus is that the deal is valid between November 16 and 26, so you don’t even have to wait until Black Friday to score the savings.

Currently, Costco’s two configurations are priced at $999 and $1,599, and to buy either option, you’ll need to have a valid Costco membership. Annual memberships start at $60, if you’re not already a member of the warehouse club. The cheaper $999 configuration ships with an 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. The more expensive configuration includes a more powerful 8th-Generation Intel Core i7 processor and doubles the storage. While the cheaper model can be purchased online or at Costco’s warehouse, the more premium configuration is online-only, Costco noted in its holiday ad. Costco also includes its Concierge Service for technical support and extends the warranty to two years as part of the bundle.

Though both Costco bundles come with the pen and keyboard cover, you won’t have a choice on color — the Surface Pro 6 model that Costco is selling is only available in the platinum tone, and the keyboard accessory is the standard black Surface Type Cover, not the more premium Alcantara-lined Surface Pro Signature Type Cover. After the discount, the Core i5 bundle will cost $799, while the Core i7 package will retail for $1,399.

For comparison, Microsoft’s online store lists the lower-priced model at $899, but you’re getting a stand-alone tablet with no accessories included. Similarly, a comparable Core i7 listing currently asks $1,499 for the tablet only. The Surface Pro Type Cover in black adds another $129 to the price, while the Surface Pen cost $99. This means that even before Costco’s $200 off Black Friday deal, you’d still be saving $128. After the Black Friday promotion, you’ll be saving $328 on the bundle and get an extended warranty on top of everything. If you’re set on the color of your Surface Pro 6, unfortunately, you won’t be able to pick up the black variant through Costco’s bundle.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP Envy x2 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
  • Google Pixel Slate vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
  • Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Pro 5
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Laptop 2
  • Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Go



8
Nov

Nearly 700,000 websites are hacked in bid to steal cryptocurrency


pwstudio/123RF

Popular web analytics platform Statcounter experienced a breach on November 3, according to research from malware researcher Matthieu Faou. Up to 700,000 web pages were targeted in the hack which primarily aimed to steal cryptocurrency through a malicious script.

Per the report, through the script was loaded on many websites, there is nothing much to fear. The malicious Statcounter script behind the attack primarily targeted the cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io to generate Bitcoin addresses. Only if the URL or content in a given webpage contained references to “myaccount/withdraw/BTC” would the malicious script activate and then silently connect to the exchange to fill the hackers’ pockets with money.

“Attackers modified the script at http://www.statcounter[.]com/counter/counter.js by adding a piece of malicious code. … In the middle of the script. This is unusual, as attackers generally add malicious code at the beginning, or at the end, of a legitimate file. Code injected into the middle of an existing script is typically harder to detect via casual observation,” explains Faou.

The breach was pretty clever and is still live, as all websites running Statcounter need to add a specific code to a website in order to grab more information about users. Hackers clearly leveraged that to their advantage even though the Gate.io service used in the script now claims it doesn’t use Statcounter anymore.

It is still unknown how many end users were truly impacted by this attack, or how much money hackers made. Statcounter has yet to issue a public response, but Gate.io issued a lengthy statement on its website.

“On Nov. 6, 2018, we got the notice from ESET researcher’s report and the “ESET Internet Security” product that there’s a suspicious behavior in Statcounter’s traffic stats service. We immediately scanned it on Virustotal in 56 antivirus products. No one reported any suspicious behavior at that time. …  However, we still immediately removed the Statcounter’s service. After that, we didn’t find any other suspicious behaviors. We want to express our great appreciation and respect to the researcher from ESET Malware Researcher,” said Gate.io.

Cryptocurrency hacks are becoming more common as Bitcoin and Ethereum pick up value. The hack also raises concerns about the nature of external Javascript, since it can easily be modified. Similar cryptocurrency focused hacks have occurred in the past, particularly with Adobe Flash installers.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • A vigilante botnet is taking out crypto-jacking malware
  • British Airways data hack hits 380,000 recent customers
  • The best website builders
  • At Def Con, children show how easy it can be to hack an election
  • Refreshed MacBook Air and iPad Pro are absent from Apple’s website leak



8
Nov

How to make a Group FaceTime call on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 12


Apple’s iOS 12 comes with a ton of new features from Siri Suggestions to grouped notifications, Screen Time, and more. But one of the most highly anticipated features is Group FaceTime, and it’s finally available with iOS 12.1.

Using Group FaceTime, you can video chat with up to 32 people at once using either your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Those participating will have to make sure they’ve updated their devices to the latest version of iOS 12, otherwise, they’ll only be able to participate via FaceTime Audio. To download iOS 12.1, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and tap on the available update to download it. You may want to check if your device is compatible with the latest OS first.

How to set up Group FaceTime via the FaceTime App

When you open the FaceTime app, tap on the plus sign in the right-hand corner. You can then type in a specific contact you want to FaceTime or tap on the plus sign to access your contacts. After choosing the group of people you’d like to FaceTime, tap on the green audio or video icons at the bottom to start the call. While waiting, you’ll see both contact names appear before they accept the FaceTime call. Those receiving the call will see a notification appear on their lock screen, which they can tap on to accept and start the call.

Throughout the call, you can also choose from different actions by swiping up on the display from the bottom: Add effects (which we’ll get to later), mute yourself, flip the camera, and end the call. You can also choose to expand a participant’s window (including your own) so that it’s larger on the screen, but this won’t appear on their end. If you swipe up on the menu completely, you will see even more options, including the ability to add more people to the group or to turn the camera off.

If the group FaceTime is still going on and you accidentally leave, you won’t have to be re-added manually by those in the video chat. Instead, tap on the session within the FaceTime app to re-add yourself to the call. The call will also appear in your FaceTime history on the app. That way, if you know you’re going to FaceTime often as a group, you can simply tap on the last call you had to restart it again.

With WatchOS 5.1.1, those using an Apple Watch can join Group FaceTime calls as well. However, they’ll only be able to join in via audio.

How to set up Group FaceTime up via iMessage

To start a Group FaceTime session within iMessage, tap on the contacts at the top of the iMessage window. From there, tap on FaceTime and the call will automatically begin. If you exit out of the video chat and want to rejoin, you can do so by tapping “Join” within the iMessage conversation. You’ll then automatically be added back into the group with everyone else. Whenever someone ends the call, a notification will also appear within your conversation — this allows you to keep a running history of your Group FaceTime calls within your group text messages.

How to add Animojis, filters, and stickers in Group FaceTime calls

As with iMessage in iOS 12, you have access to some fun effects in Group FaceTime. A swipe up on the bottom of the screen will bring you to a menu of options. Tap on “effects,” and you’ll pull up a variety of different things you can add to your FaceTime window — Animojis (if you have the iPhone X or newer), filters, and any sticker packs you download. You can choose to use them throughout the entire Group FaceTime session, or remove them whenever you’d like.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple begins testing Group FaceTime for MacOS Mojave — again
  • Useful iOS 12 tips and tricks
  • The best iOS 12 features
  • How to create, customize, and use Memoji in iOS 12
  • How to block calls on an iPhone



8
Nov

Google confirms it will add Android support for foldable displays


It’s already clear the smartphone trend of 2019 will be foldable devices, and Google is welcoming it with open arms. At this year’s Android Dev Summit, the company announced it’s adding support for what’s known as “foldables,” allowing Android apps to work seamlessly with the new form factor.

Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android, took to the stage to explain how the company plans to go about embracing the new concept. While he didn’t go into extreme detail, he did reveal that resizable flags will be added so that apps can respond to folding and unfolding. The company also said we’ll see more foldable phone features in new Android releases, so it’s highly likely to be included in Android Q.

But what exactly is a “foldable” device? It’s considered a phone and a tablet that comes in two variants — two-screen devices and one-screen devices. For those concerned about everyday portability, a foldable looks like a phone when it’s folded, so it can fit in either your pocket or handbag.

Foldables offer what Google calls screen continuity. “For example, you might start a video on the folded smaller screen while on the go, but later sit down and want a more immersive experience. You can simply unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat,” Burke explained.

The news comes the same day as Samsung’s Developer Conference where the company announced its foldable phone technology. Known as the Infinity Flex Display, users will be able to have a compact smartphone that unfolds to provide a larger, more immersive display for multitasking and viewing content. Supporting Google’s earlier announcement, the app experience is said to “seamlessly transition from the smaller display to the larger display as the device unfolds.” You’ll also be able to use three active apps simultaneously whenever you’re on the larger display.

While Samsung remained tight-lipped on availability for its foldable smartphone, Google mentioned that it worked closely with the company to create a device that is expected to launch early next year.



8
Nov

Common Google Pixel 3 issues and how to fix them


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No phone is perfect — here’s how you can address problems plaguing your Pixel.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are fantastic phones, but they aren’t without their issues. Several well-reported problems with the phones have cropped up as thousands of devices get out to people and were put to use. Some of the complaints are due to the fact that Pixels are hyper-analyzed by the Android enthusiast crowd, but there are still many legitimate gripes that need to be addressed.

Problems with every phone typically only affect a small percentage of owners, but if your phone is dealing with them, that’s all that matters. We’ve rounded up all of the most common issues with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, and how you can mitigate or fix them.

Camera doesn’t save photos

You may have experienced a pesky problem where if you take a photo, then quickly exit the app, the photo never actually saves. The photo captures, but a hangup during processing leaves you without a saved image. This is just one of a string of camera-related Pixel 3 problems, and it’s one of the most annoying.

This is manageable, but also something Google really should address.

The only surefire way to address this, at least right now, is to keep the camera app open until it is fully done processing and saving the image. That’s only a few seconds, mind you, but it will feel a lot longer when you’re just sitting there waiting for something you can’t see happening. If the image has been saved, it’ll be viewable from the quick gallery view in the corner of the viewfinder. After that point, you shouldn’t see any data loss if you close the camera.

Going forward, this is another fix Google will need to address with changes to resource allocation for the camera. We’re all hoping it’s going to be fixed alongside the other memory management changes coming in December.

Music app closing while in use

So you’re listening to music with Spotify. Or a podcast in Pocket Casts. You open the camera to take a photo … and the audio stops. The app’s been killed. That’s annoying! And you’re not alone. It’s an issue with resource allocation, where the power-hungry camera takes up so much processor and memory that things start getting killed off … even if they’re also actively in use.

Be it a change to Pie or for the Pixel itself, Google is on the case with memory management problems.

This bug has cropped up most often in relation to music or podcast apps that are playing in the background but isn’t necessarily isolated to those use cases. Other people report background-intensive apps of all sorts being closed in the background unceremoniously as an intense foreground app is used.

Google has said it plans to address memory management issues in the forthcoming December update, which we hope will include dealing with this media app killing problem. It’s great news for everyone who’s experienced this, but for now there’s no real “fix” for the problem. You either preemptively pause your music/podcast before opening the camera, or you’ll run the risk of it happening without your control. Let’s hope Google irons this one out.

Weak battery life

The smaller Pixel 3, in particular, isn’t known for great battery life. It’s serviceable, but isn’t a “full day” phone for everyone. There are no specific known big battery drainers on the Pixel 3 at a system level, so we’re going to give you a few battery-saving tips that can add up to extra hours of life per day:

  • Check your battery usage details: In the battery settings you can check your battery usage, and look for any outliers. If you haven’t used an app much but it’s using double-digit percentage of your battery in a day, you should consider checking in on that app to see if everything is working properly.
  • Turn off Ambient display: In the Display settings you’ll find an option to turn off Ambient display. It looks great and is super useful, but keeping the display active uses battery throughout the entire day. You can let the phone turn on Ambient display when you lift your phone or a notification comes in, which is a nice compromise.
  • Turn on Adaptive Battery: It’s on by default, but if you turned it off you should turn it back on. This feature lets the system limit infrequently used apps from waking up and draining your battery, which is really helpful.
  • Use Battery Saver: If you’ve been using your phone hard and know you won’t find a charger anytime soon, flip on Battery Saver. It restricts performance and background data access for apps, but if the alternative is having a dead phone you’ll prefer to use it under these restrictions.

Doing these simple things isn’t going to take your phone from dying at 6 p.m. to lasting through the night, but it could add that extra 5-10% extra you need to make it through tough days or give you a little peace of mind that your phone isn’t going to die. It’s worth a shot.

Wireless charging isn’t as quick as you expected

This one isn’t so much a “problem” as it is a misunderstanding (created by Google, it should be said). The Pixel 3 is a Qi wireless certified device, meaning you can drop it on just about any wireless charger and have it work. But that doesn’t mean it will charge quickly on any charger — it will charge at about 5W, which is quite slow. To get the fastest possible speeds right now, charging at 10W, you’ll need a Pixel Stand wireless charger from Google.

Qi is supported up to 5W, but you need a Google-certified charger to get 10W.

That’s because Google has to sign off on each charger that wants to charge the Pixel 3 at its maximum of 10W, giving it a “Made for Google” designation — because according to Google that goes above the standard Qi specification. It’s frustrating, but this is a pretty standard limitation that we see across multiple manufacturers — there’s no guarantee with any phone and charger combination that it will charge as fast as the numbers on the box unless it’s a charger the phone company itself makes. For now, if you want faster wireless charging you need to use a Pixel Stand — and in the future, there will be third-party chargers that offer the same charging speeds as well.

Multiple notches appearing on display

google-pixel-3-xl-second-notch-bug.jpg?i

The Pixel 3 XL has a really big display notch. We know that. But some people have experienced a bug where the software puts extra software notches on the screen inadvertently. That’s not supposed to happen. This issue comes from the Pixel 3 XL’s software that lets developers toy with having multiple notches on their phone for development purposes … but it unfortunately has a bug (or several) that’s displaying them to regular users in awkward places around the edge of the display.

Google has said that it is releasing a software update to address the extra notches. This one should be a pretty easy fix, and over soon. If you’ve messed with the developer settings on your Pixel 3 XL to hide the notch, it’s worth revisiting those settings to see if you triggered something you shouldn’t have — perhaps just turning that setting off entirely can fix it temporarily.

Google Pixel 3 second opinion review: Quickly becoming my favorite phone ever

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL review
  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?
  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL specifications
  • Join our Pixel 3 forums

Best Buy
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8
Nov

How to turn off the Echo Show (2nd Gen) camera


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The Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen) is absolutely beautiful, and makes life easier for users while including a camera for video chatting. But what are you going to do if you don’t plan on using the video-chat features and are a bit worried about your security? We’ll take a look at how you can disable the camera on the Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen).

Products used in this guide

  • Amazon: Echo Show (2nd gen) ($230)

How to disable the camera

With the display turned on, swipe down from the top of the screen.
Tap Settings.
Scroll and select Device Options.
Toggle Enable Camera to the off position.

After you have done this, the camera on your new Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen) will now be disabled. This is great for those who don’t want to take advantage of video calling or might have privacy concerns.

Can you turn off the camera with your voice?

While Echo products are primarily powered by Alexa’s voice services, it seems that Amazon is still holding things back a bit. Unfortunately, you can’t ask Alexa to simply disable the camera on your Echo Show (2nd gen). Instead, you’ll have to follow the steps above to get things done.

We are hoping that Amazon will reverse its course on this in the future, but maybe there will be an Alexa Skill you can add which will do the same thing.

Our top equipment picks

The Best

Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen)

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$230 at Amazon

Alexa on the big screen

If you are ready to make the dive into a smart home, chances are you will want a hub. These hubs are starting to come with screens for video calling and other purposes, and there’s none better than the new Echo Show (2nd gen). With a 10.1-inch HD display, you can watch TV, view recipe videos, and so much more.

8
Nov

Microsoft Launcher gets big 5.0 update with Windows Timeline support


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It’s Time for Timeline.

Microsoft Launcher’s big update to version 5.0 is now rolling out to everyone on Android, coming a little over a month after first launching for beta testers. This update brings several added tweaks and features, but the biggest addition by far is Windows Timeline integration.

Timeline support has been a long time coming, with Microsoft promising its eventual release earlier this year. Now, when you’re signed into the same Microsoft account on your PC and Android phone, your Windows Timeline activity will sync between devices. This allows all of your browsing activity from Microsoft Edge to show up in your Timeline on your phone, and vice-versa. Additionally, documents will appear in Timeline as well, so you can pick up where you left off in any Office documents, should you have the Office apps installed on your phone.

The other major change is related to the Feed layout, which now features dedicated tabs for News, Glance, and the aforementioned Timeline. The news tab is essentially one long feed of the latest headlines, powered by Microsoft News. This replaces the News widget that previously lived in the Feed. Glance, meanwhile, is similar to the previous Feed, albeit with a much cleaner interface that shows you relevant information at a glance with dedicated widgets.

Here’s the official rundown of what’s new in Microsoft Launcher version 5.0:

  • Feed – Updated Feed navigation for your Glance, News and Timeline tabs. You can now access your Feed settings from the top of your Feed
  • News – Updated News experience powered by Microsoft News
  • Timeline on mobile – Activities from your PC and phone now can be seen on your Android phone
  • Cortana – Use Cortana to send emails with multi-turn emailing. Cortana is now supported in the DE-DE market
  • Family – Parents can now view their kids’ real-time location

See at Google Play

8
Nov

The Galaxy Note 9 is the best big phone you can buy


We use our phones every day, and use them hard. When it comes to getting the most done with your phone, you want a huge screen, and Android has plenty of options that fit the bill. Some are better than others, though, so we narrow down the choices to only the best.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the biggest and best phone Samsung makes, and that also makes it the best overall big-screened phone. Its 6.4-inch display is the best in the business, and it wraps around a beautiful metal and glass exterior. You can take advantage of the huge screen with top-end specs and the S Pen stylus that’s truly unique in the smartphone world. It’s expensive, but it’s available both unlocked and from just about any carrier or retailer in the world.

Our pick

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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  • $930 from Amazon
  • $999 from Samsung

A massive screen with every spec and feature needed to back it up.

The Note 9 is the do-it-all smartphone, with every feature and spec you could want. And you get to use those features with an amazing best-in-class 6.4-inch display and top-end internals to back it up. It’s hard not to like the design as well..

Who should buy this phone

When you’re looking for the biggest and best phone, look no further than the Galaxy Note 9. It has a big screen, and better yet it’s also a great screen with excellent colors and brightness even in direct sunlight. It also has the highest-end specs possible, with an optional 512GB of internal storage if you need it. Then you get all of the nice-to-have features like wireless charging, a headphone jack, waterproofing, an SD card slot and more. It’s a “more of everything” approach that works well in the big-screened phone market, and makes the Note 9 a fantastic buy.

Is it a good time to buy this phone?

The Galaxy Note 9 is new, and will be the best phone available from Samsung until the Galaxy S10 is announced in February or March 2019. You can buy the Galaxy Note 9 and be confident that you’re getting the best big-screened phone available for the next several months.

Reasons to buy

  • Massive screen is the highest quality in the industry
  • Top-end specs across the board
  • Has S Pen for writing and drawing
  • Great pair of cameras
  • Headphone jack and wireless charging

Reasons not to buy

  • More expensive than the competition
  • Glass is more fragile than metal options
  • Samsung’s software, including Bixby, is a bit overbearing

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the best phone with a big screen

When Samsung made the Galaxy S9+, we were impressed. Six months later, we got the Galaxy Note 9 that turned all of the knobs to 11. It’s been a few years since the Note was considerably better, and in no ways worse, than the latest Galaxy S, but we’re glad that’s the case again. You start with the core fundamentals of the Galaxy S9+ in the processor, RAM and hardware features, and that’s a great place to build from — you get all of the latest and greatest specs and hardware features like waterproofing, wireless charging, a headphone jack, stereo speakers and an SD card slot.

But then the Note 9 goes further. You get a base of 128GB of storage, optionally spec’d up to 512GB. You get an even larger display, now 6.4 inches, that’s the brightest and most colorful you’ll find in a phone today. Then Samsung bumped the battery up to 4000mAh, giving you effortless full-day battery life and lasting longer than most phones out there.

The Note 9 does it all, and gives you a huge screen to experience it.

And of course, you get the S Pen stylus. With extreme accuracy and precision you can write or draw all day — and now it works wirelessly to control the phone within Bluetooth range, to trigger the camera or move through a slideshow presentation. It just shows that the Note 9 is designed to do everything you need, which you’re looking for if you want such a large screen.

Samsung’s software isn’t the best in the business, but it’s amazingly customizable and if you’re willing to work with it it can be an amazing tool to complement such wonderful hardware. The original Galaxy Note really defined the “phablet” segment all those years ago, and now the Note 9 is a modern take that’s still the best available.

Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Galaxy Note 9 is the absolute pinnacle of modern-day phablets, but it isn’t the only big-screened phone out there. There are solid alternatives that also have large screens but won’t break the bank at nearly $1000. The Galaxy S9+ is a really good alternative for a couple hundred dollars less that simply doesn’t have an S Pen, and the OnePlus 6T is a great choice for a couple hundred dollars less still. Huawei also deserves a shout with the new Mate 20 Pro Pro.

Runner-up

Google Pixel 3 XL

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  • $899 from Google Store

A big screen with simpler software to use

The Pixel 3 XL focuses on having the fastest, simplest, and most helpful software experience, running on simple and powerful hardware with a big display. It accents everything with an amazing camera and a handful of features that make it stand out from the competition.

Google’s “XL” phones have followed the big phone trend, but the Pixel 3 XL is the first one to actually have a good screen as well. The 6.3-inch OLED panel doesn’t get quite as bright as Samsung’s, but in every other respect is fantastic. The big phone also packs all of the great features you expect in this class of device: loud stereo speakers, water resistance, a full spec sheet and wireless charging.

The only knock on the Pixel 3 XL from the perspective of someone who wants a huge screen is that it doesn’t have any extra software to take advantage of it like the Note 9 does. Android 9 Pie has multi-window support, but it’s clunky and doesn’t feel as versatile or powerful as Samsung’s. You just get a little bit more of everything.

Great value

OnePlus 6T

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$549 from OnePlus

Most of the flagship experience for a fraction of the price

OnePlus just keeps doing it: a flagship-level phone with amazing hardware, specs and capabilities for hundreds of dollars less. You get a big screen, top-notch internals, excellent battery life, and actually capable cameras for under $600.

For just $549, you’re getting a lot of phone in the OnePlus 6T: physically, and in terms of specs and features. Solid hardware and a full spec sheet rival the competition, and the 6.41-inch AMOLED screen is solid. The cameras are a step down from the competition, but they’re consistent and capable. And its OxygenOS software is a joy to use.

The OnePlus 6T isn’t perfect, and has many shortcomings when compared head-to-head with the other phones here. But with a price tag that’s about $350 less than the Note 9, it’s hard to complain too much. Given its price, it’s shocking how close the OnePlus 6T gets to the competition, and there’s a good chance you’ll be willing to forego a few nice-to-have extras to save so much money.

Triple-camera fun

LG V40

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$750 from Amazon

Matching the flagship competition, but doing it in a fun and appealing way

There isn’t much beyond the triple camera that distinguishes the V40 from the competition. But it matches other phones in every respect, and offers an alternative option for a big phone that isn’t as heavy and cumbersome to hold.

LG’s fighting an uphill battle against Samsung’s dominance, but in the V40 has a legitimate challenger to the Note 9 — and it does so by using some restraint. The V40 is huge, and its screen and spec sheet match the Note 9 straight up. But the V40 is far lighter and easier to handle than its competitors, which is something you can appreciate when you pick it up.

The V40 hits all of the high points of a modern flagship, from the spec sheet to the extra features and all the way down the list. LG’s software has really improved in the last couple generations, and in many ways it’s simpler and easier to use than Samsung’s. LG’s triple camera, with a wide-angle shooter, is a blast to play with as well. This is a great option if you can find it on sale — which is inevitable with LG’s phones.

Feature-packed

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

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£880 from Amazon UK

Huge and feature-filled … unless you’re in the U.S.

Huawei aims straight for the highest end of the market with the Mate 20 Pro, going all-out in size, specs and capabilities. This 6.39-inch monster has a complete spec sheet, plus a downright massive battery, great triple camera setup and gorgeous color options.

Huawei is doing its best Samsung impression, going after the Note 9 in every way (except the stylus). The Mate 20 Pro is filled with plenty of features, every spec, a battery even larger than the Note 9’s, and one of the best camera setups available. But like Samsung’s latest phones, it comes with a software experience that’s a bit grating, if not entirely frustrating, to people who haven’t used a Huawei phone before.

But the real issue is that you can’t get the Mate 20 Pro in the U.S. unless you buy one from an importer or reseller. It’s a real shame, because the Mate 20 Pro is a compelling do-it-all option for people who want to break the mold of just defaulting to the Galaxy Note 9 when they look for a big phone.

Bottom line

For big-screen lovers, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers everything you want (and more). It’s undeniably powerful no matter what you need to accomplish, and its industry-leading display combines with the S Pen to give you a power-user experience unlike any other.

From top to bottom the spec sheet has everything you need, and more. It actually offers a headphone jack, which isn’t necessarily a given even on these big phones. The cameras are really good as well. You’ll have to pay dearly to get this whole package, nearly $1000, but when money isn’t the ultimate deciding factor the Note 9 is absolutely worth it.

There are other options out there for less money that offer a big screen and various other desirable aspects, from the Pixel 3 XL down to the OnePlus 6T. They’re all worth considering, depending on where your feelings land on Samsung’s software and the price tag.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

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Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.

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